Little Sister Knows Best
Lightning wanted to believe she was a considerate person – at least when it came to the people she cared about. For those few, precious people, there wasn't a lot she wouldn't do. But as much as that group had grown over the years – she was almost up to double digits now – Serah would always be right near the top of the list.
So when her sister had asked her if she could take Friday afternoon off, Lightning had agreed. Never mind all of the paperwork she had to do, the recruits she had to train and the shooting range she had to fix. If Serah wanted to have coffee then they were going to have coffee. After everything they'd been through, she couldn't push her sister away, especially since she'd moved in with Snow.
As usual, Lightning arrived at the café early. She made a point of always being on time, and she held everyone else to that same standard, much to the exasperation of her few friends and her many colleagues.
The café had a warm, old fashion charm to it with handmade wooden furniture instead of the usual sterile, mass produced metal or plastic. Rather than sit inside, Lightning opted for a table outside, nestled amongst the trees that lined the sidewalk. It was a good day to be outside: warm but not hot and with a gentle breeze that was well shy of being truly windy. The whisper of the wind through the leaves mixed with the gentle murmur of conversation to blunt the hard edge that lingered even after she'd finished work for the day.
As she waited, she ran a soldier's eye over everything. She might be off duty, and she might be in the mood to relax, but she'd been through too much to ever let her guard all the way down. But even that was an improvement. The first few months after her journey with the others, she'd jumped at every shadow, pointed her gun blade at every phantom that haunted the edges of her vision.
She didn't much care for keeping up with the latest fashions. There wasn't any point. She didn't flaunt her looks, but she knew what clothes looked good on her, and she had more than enough to suit her needs. The stores on either side of the café were thus of only passing interest: they catered more to those with an interest in high fashion or an eye for expensive jewellery. Still, she filed away a few details. Serah's birthday wasn't far, and few things pleased Lightning as much as spoiling her little sister. A new pair of earrings would look good on the younger woman, sapphire perhaps to match her eyes.
As for the café itself, this was Lightning's first time visiting it. She'd heard of it in passing from some of her colleagues. It was, apparently, well known for the quality of its food and drink. More than one fellow officer had mentioned – perhaps not realising she was listening – that it was the ideal place for a casual lunchtime dalliance with a romantic interest.
Imagine all of the surprise then when Lightning had let slip that she planned on going to the café. Her love life – or seeming lack thereof – was the subject of no small amount of speculation amongst the other officers. She could have corrected them, but they wouldn't have believed her anyway, would have interpreted the truth as a lie meant to cover up what was surely a torrid affair with some as yet unnamed lover. If only they could put that much effort into getting their own work done. At least it helped boost morale.
A few minutes passed with no sign of Serah, and Lightning let her gaze wander over all the passers by. Several sought to catch her eye, but she didn't bother to acknowledge them. Perhaps it was rude, but she was here to meet Serah, not speak with some random stranger. Her lips twitched. Vanille would have talked to at least one of them, maybe even invited a few to sit down and share some cake. The younger woman was a crazier, nosier and altogether more mischievous version of Serah. Once, that would have grated on Lightning's nerves. But after Serah had moved out, it was a relief to share her house with Vanille and Fang. It was never quiet with those two, and there were times when Lightning was almost afraid to be alone with her own thoughts.
Fang… Lightning sighed. Vanille had become her sister in everything but name, but the older Pulsian was something else, something that Lightning wasn't yet ready to put words to. Fang put her on edge, left every nerve tingling and raw, and not necessarily in a bad way. They joked and laughed with each other – or rather Fang laughed and Lightning gave the occasional faint smile – but there was always a certain distance between them, a separation that was as much emotional as it was physical, as though they were afraid of what might happen if they let themselves get to close. It had them walking on eggshells around each other, fumbling their words, unsure of what to say and leave unsaid. It also made Vanille want to strangle both of them, if only her hands were strong enough.
Finally, she caught a flash of pink hair in the crowd. Her eyes softened. Very few people had pink hair, and sure enough, it was Serah. Perhaps she was biased, but Lightning thought Serah cut quite a striking figure against the rest of the crowd. A white sundress hugged her little sister's slim form, and a white, wide-brimmed hat with a blue ribbon was tucked onto her head.
At times, Lightning envied Serah. Her sister had a warm, approachable sort of beauty, the kind of smile that was welcoming with a hint of mischief. Lightning's looks were of a more regal cast, attractive but imposing. Serah could look every inch a lady and still come across as the friendly girl next door. Lightning was unmistakably a soldier, regardless of what she wore. She scowled. Snow had better appreciate how lucky he was.
Serah caught sight of her and with a happy wave, she tucked her purse under her arm and weaved through the crowd to take a seat at the table opposite Lightning.
"You actually took the afternoon off."
"You didn't think I would?" Lightning allowed a touch of amusement to colour her voice. "How is everything? I would have thought you'd be in class right now."
Serah giggled. As a schoolteacher, her work hours were quite different from Lightning's. She did have to deal with monsters though, albeit of a different variety. "Holidays began yesterday."
"I see." Lightning passed the menu to Serah. "Do you want anything?"
"This place is supposed to be very good." Serah opened the menu and studied it with all the care Vanille gave the ancient tomes the surveyors occasionally brought in from the ruins that littered the area. "But look at how expensive everything is."
Lightning shrugged. "Order whatever you want. I'm paying." It was expensive, but that wasn't a problem. She earned a lot as a captain of the Guardian Corps, not to mention all the bonuses she received from those special assignments that only someone with her abilities and knowledge of the terrain could do. And Fang and Vanille did help with the household expenses, Fang by leading expeditions to map and explore Gran Pulse, and Vanille by assisting in the development of new technology combining the science of Gran Pulse and Cocoon.
"Are you sure?" Serah grinned. "I'm not poor, Lightning, and you never know… I might just order everything on the menu. What then?"
"Then I'll sit here and make sure you eat every last bit of it." Lightning smirked. "I remember when we were kids. You always used to pick at your food. I had to watch you to make sure you ate it all. Maybe that's why you're so short."
"I am not short." Serah huffed. "You're just tall."
"No, I'm not tall. Snow is tall." Lightning poked Serah on the nose and tugged her hand back before the younger woman could grab it. "You're just short."
"Meanie." Serah wrinkled her nose. This sort of playful teasing was a reminder that Claire hadn't died so that Lightning could live – she'd gone away for a while, true, but little by little she was coming back. Lightning would never be Claire again, but she would never again be the cold, cruel Lightning who had all but thrown Serah out after learning she'd become a l'Cie. "But I have got to try some of the cake as well as the coffee. What do you think about chocolate cake?"
"That one?" Lightning frowned at the menu. That wasn't a normal chocolate cake – it was diabetes on a plate: five different kinds of chocolate, fudge, icing and a host of other extras. She could already feel the heart disease taking hold of her. Oh well, she should be all right as long as she didn't make a habit of it. She grinned. When she got home she could tell Vanille all about it. The Dia had an even bigger sweet tooth than Serah, so it would drive her nuts. She probably wouldn't rest until she'd managed to drag Lightning and Fang to the café to try it herself.
Unbidden, a host of images flashed through Lightning's mind: Fang with chocolate smeared across her lips; Lightning leaning over to wipe it off; and Fang taking her hand and oh so slowly bringing it to her lips, sucking the chocolate off first one long, slender digit then another until Lightning –
"Are we going to order or are you going to keep staring into space?" Serah waved one hand in front of Lightning. "Well?"
Lightning hissed. Not good. She'd been having more and more thoughts like that recently, and it was only a matter of time before someone worked out what she was imagining. "Sure." She waved one of the waiters over. "Let's make our order."
"So…" Serah tilted her head to one side and grinned. "Vanille tells me you've been working longer hours lately."
Lightning made a disgusted sound – that little tattletale. "They're thinking of putting up another settlement about two hours away, and I've been clearing out anything dangerous."
"I hope you don't overwork yourself." Serah reached over and poked Lightning in the side. However, all the older woman did was scowl. "Good, you didn't flinch, so at least you're not hurt." Serah could still remember all the times Lightning had come back barely able to walk. On the upside, if Lightning got hurt now, Fang would go off and spear whatever was responsible while Vanille patched her back up.
Lightning pushed Serah's hand away. "I'm fine, and do you and Vanille have to talk about everything?"
"Almost." Serah shrugged. "I worry about you, and now that I've moved out, I can't check on you as often as I'd like."
"So you picked Vanille, who is clearly the sanest, most responsible person we know?" Lightning made a face. "How exactly does that reduce your worrying?"
"Well, it was either her or Fang, and something tells me you wouldn't like Fang watching you too closely." Serah's lips curled up at the edges. "Or maybe you would."
It was that steadily widening grin on Serah's face that did it. Lightning had just walked into a trap, and as usual when it came to Serah, she'd never seen it coming. Stupid filial affection – it made it so easy to forget that her sister was one of the most devious people she knew.
"Vanille says you've been avoiding Fang lately; that you wouldn't let her help you with all that extra work of yours, which is odd since we all know how much you like having Fang around whenever you need to kill anything."
"It's not like that." Lightning looked away, unable to stand the obvious amusement in her sister's eyes. Or maybe it was exactly like that and she didn't want to admit it. When it came to Fang, nothing was simple. She didn't know where she stood with the other woman, and she was afraid to ask in case the answer she got wasn't the one she wanted.
"If you say so."
Lightning's eyes widened. Was Serah actually going to let the matter drop?
"Look, our order is here!"
The coffee was top notch with a deep, rich flavour and a perfect, subtle note of bitterness. Despite the cost, she might have to come here more often, or send some of the new recruits on coffee runs. She could call it urban navigation training. And then there was the cake, and if Serah's reaction was anything to go by, it was amazing.
Serah had taken one long look at the cake – sizing up the kill, so to speak – then cut herself a slice only to let out a low moan of pleasure as the chocolate hit her tongue. Lightning had even found herself blushing at how obvious her sister's enjoyment was. Fang had once asked her, that teasing smirk on her full lips, if she knew what a chocolate orgasm was. After almost choking on her coffee, Lightning had brushed the question aside.
Any sentence involving her, Fang and the word 'orgasm' was not something she wanted to dwell on – not if she wanted to stay sane. Of course, Fang had to have the last word. She'd stared right at Lightning and then lifted a few pieces of chocolate to her lips, devouring the sweets in a way that had to be borderline pornographic, at least to Lightning's lust addled mind. And if Lightning had gone out and bought ten more of those damn chocolate bars and left them where Fang could see them, who could blame her?
But it was amazing how different the two events were. Watching Serah bliss out on chocolate left her feeling awkward as though – dear Maker, please never let it happen – she'd walked in on her sister and Snow in the midst of intimacy. Watching Fang eat chocolate made her want to either join in or take the chocolate's place.
"You've got some on your cheek." Lightning frowned and pulled out a napkin to wipe away a stray bit of chocolate. Her sister usually had excellent table manners – the sugar must already have overwhelmed her brain.
Serah blushed, but made no attempt to stop eating the cake. "You have to try this. It's so good." She licked her lips and then reached into her purse for a magazine. "By the way, just when were you planning on telling me about your affair with Fang?"
Lightning's hand froze halfway to her slice of cake. "What?"
Serah handed the magazine to Lightning with a smirk. "Take a look." Then she reached for another slice of cake.
Lightning glanced over the offending piece of tabloid filth and her blood began to boil. The magazine had somehow managed to get pictures of when she and Fang had gone to the movies a few months ago. The pictures showed the two of them talking over coffee and sharing popcorn. However, the biggest picture showed Lightning leaning on Fang, one arm draped almost possessively around the taller woman's waist, their bodies side by side. Even now she could remember that moment, along with the frisson of heat that had run all the way down her side to pool deep and low in her belly.
And the accompanying text was even worse.
In a voice that left no doubt about her amusement, Serah summarised. "As these photos show, when two women like Captain Lightning Farron and Oerba Yun Fang are involved, even a night at the movies can be red hot!"
"Those idiots." Lightning fought the urge to rip up the magazine. They had no right to barge into her life, and even less right to try and label whatever it was that she and Fang had. How could Serah enjoy this garbage? "We went to a movie, that's all."
"And you didn't tell me?" Serah's eyes took on a predatory gleam. "And you didn't bring Vanille?"
Lightning was beginning to wonder if Vanille was the source of the story. It would be just like her. She'd started to make increasingly obvious hints to Lightning suggesting that she make her move. In Vanille's words, she wanted someone who could provide for and look after her troublesome big sister and Lightning was the only one who fit the bill.
"Vanille wouldn't have liked the movie." It was a pathetic excuse, but it was all she had. Vanille loved action movies.
Arms folded across her chest, Lightning stood her ground. It was at time like this, she missed the days when her word was law. Not that she missed the resentment that had built up between her and Serah when Lightning had tried to be the younger woman's mother and sister. "Yes, and how can you read this? It's garbage."
In response, Serah flicked to another page. "Maybe, but it can be quite fun to read."
Lightning stared at this latest insult to her intelligence. "What the hell is this?" Her growl had some of the other customers looking their way. "I don't even…"
"I think it's funny." Serah pulled the magazine back before Lightning could destroy it.
"It's not funny at all." Lightning pointed at the magazine. "Explain how that could possibly be funny."
Serah stroked her chin. "Let's see… you are the famous Lightning Farron, leader of the l'Cie, and now, you're a dashing, beautiful and highly decorated member of the Guardian Corps. You're also young and single. Is it really that surprising when the tabloids speculate about your love life? And is it really that surprising when they try pairing you up with almost everybody you spend any time with?"
"Fang I can understand." Lightning's fists clenched. "But the others… Hope… and Vanille… and Sazh?" She had to force the last name out. "Snow?"
Her sister gave a merry laugh. "We both know that Hope is going to become quite the man one day. He's not there yet, but it won't be long, and whoever he chooses in the future is going to be very lucky."
"You've given this a lot of thought." Lightning scowled. "But according to that garbage, when I'm not busy canoodling with Fang, I'm apparently busy making a man out of Hope and a woman out of Vanille." The 'article' had even used those exact words.
"You mean you haven't seduced the pair of them – at once, mind you – and reduced them to quivering piles of desire, eager for your every touch?"
Serah knew full well that anyone else would have been punched in the head or worse, but being Lightning's favourite (and only) little sister granted her certain privileges. She did wonder sometimes – most recently after a drinking contest with Vanille – what it would take for Lightning to punish her and whether the older woman would have the guts to bend her over her knee. The last time Lightning had done that was when Serah had come back drunk from a party in high school. Neither of them had ever mentioned it again, and she had a feeling Lightning had wiped the whole incident from her memory.
"And you're not secretly raising Dajh with Sazh? He is an eligible widower with a heart of gold." Serah grinned. "And let's not forget Snow. Supposedly, you've already stolen him away from me."
"You can keep him."
"Relax." Serah chuckled and took a sip of her coffee. "No one believes these things, it's just fun to speculate." She turned the page. "But you have to admit, the others do have their good points." A wistful smile crossed her face and she gave a gentle sigh. "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I'd met Vanille before Snow…"
"I'm joking, I'm joking." Serah held up her engagement ring for emphasis. "You know, there's even people who speculate about the two of us."
"Us?" Lightning had to pry her hands off her coffee cup before she broke it. "What kind of speculation?"
Serah tilted her head to one side and clasped her hands to her chest. Then she gave Lightning her most innocent yet seductive look, something that left Lightning equal parts impressed and disturbed. "Let's see: you're the strong, overly protective older sister, unwilling to share me with anyone else. I'm the innocent younger sister, reliant on you for everything and closer to you than anyone in the world." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. "But seriously, if we weren't related and you were still on the market, I would totally –"
"Stop right there!" Lightning did not want to hear that, and to make sure her sister couldn't continue she shoved another slice of cake into her mouth. "I refuse to talk about that."
A happy smile spread across Serah's face. The cake got better with every slice, and the rich, sweetness of the chocolate added a unique twist to the look of absolute horror on her sister's face. Lightning could be so fun to tease. But she wasn't here just to tease the older woman.
"Would it be that bad if some of it were true? I mean, the stuff about you and Fang?" Serah flipped back to the original article. "You look happy here, Lightning, and you deserve to be happy."
"Serah." Lightning dragged in a deep breath. She hated it when her sister got like this. There was no way out of this conversation now.
"Lightning, I love you, but emotionally you're a cripple." Lightning tried to get a word in, but Serah would have none of it. "But that's okay. I get it. You gave up so much for me when we were younger – gave up part of who you were – and I'm grateful, so grateful. I wouldn't be here if you hadn't fought so hard for both of us. But isn't it time you were happy?"
Lightning stared into her coffee. The dark liquid had gone cold, but she couldn't bring herself to care. In all honesty, she'd been lost when Serah moved out. When they were younger and it was just the two of them, and she'd been working herself to the bone to make ends meet, she'd kept herself going by thinking of that far off day when Serah would be grown up and everything would be okay. Now, Serah had moved in with the man she was going to marry and everything was fine.
Snow was a good man: the kind of man Lightning knew would look after her sister no matter what. Sure, there were times when Lightning wanted to bash his head in, but that was true of almost everyone. So now after living for Serah for so long, she had to live for herself – only she wasn't sure she knew how. It was enough to make her laugh and cry at the same time. She finally had the chance to live her own life, to go after what she wanted, but she wasn't sure she deserved that chance, let alone deserved the person she wanted.
Lightning Farron: hero, legend… coward.
"She deserves better." Lightning fiddled with one of the napkins and scrunched it up into a ball. "I'm damaged goods, Serah. You know that."
"Damaged goods?" Serah murmured before she leaned over to whack Lightning upside the head. "Idiot."
"Ouch." When was the last time Serah had hit her? Anyone else would have lost an arm for that.
Serah scowled. "If you ever say something that stupid again, then I'll hit you some more." She raised her hand. "Damaged goods? You're smarter than that, Lightning, and a lot better too."
"She does deserve better though."
"I don't know if I can –"
"Damn it! Can you stop hitting me so I can explain?" Lightning grabbed her sister's wrist.
"Fine." Serah snatched her arm back. "I'm waiting for my beautiful, intelligent and talented heroic sister to explain to me how she isn't good enough for the woman she loves." She tapped one foot on the sidewalk. "Well?"
Lightning considered arguing for a moment before giving up. Serah would see right through her. "Serah, we both know I'm not good at this." She gestured at all the people around them. "I'm not good with other people. I can order them around and lead them, but that's not the same as spending time with them; that's not the same as loving them. I have maybe a dozen people I'd call friends and they didn't come easily."
"You've been living with Fang for months now, and I haven't heard any complaints." Serah had, but most of them were related to whether or not Lightning would ever get the stick out of a certain part of her anatomy; in other words, the usual.
"Fang and Vanille, Serah. There's a difference." Lightning stared into her cold coffee. "Fang and I… sometimes we get along so well and sometimes we fight and Vanille… she helps smooth things over." Her lips curled. "She's still a brat though."
"You fight because neither of you can make up your damn mind." Serah threw her hands up in exasperation. "You won't say anything; she won't say anything. But neither of you will even think of letting anyone else come between you. It's no wonder you're so wound up. The two of you should just get a room – you do have several at your house – and just –"
"Finish that sentence and die." Lightning's ferocious scowl had no effect whatsoever on Serah.
"And talk everything over." Serah smirked. "Or was your mind wandering back into the gutter?" She sighed. "We're all sick of watching the two of you. Do you think I don't notice you staring when you think no one is looking? I never thought I'd see my big sister mooning over someone like a lovesick schoolgirl, but I guess I was wrong. It's actually kind of cute."
"I do not moon over Fang like a lovesick schoolgirl."
"Not all the time. Sometimes you look like you want to strangle her, and sometimes you look like you want to do all sorts of wicked things to her." Serah's eyes gleamed as she did her best to impersonate Lightning's voice and expression. "I'm Lightning Farron, and I totally stare at Fang when no one can see me. I also mope around the house whenever she's gone, and I always make sure to cook her favourite food when she comes back."
"How do you even know about that?" Lightning jaw clenched. "Vanille. That little rat."
"Like I said, I asked her to watch you." Serah shrugged. "I pay in her chocolate and ice cream. But seriously, you need to tell Fang. It's not fair on you or her. Get it out into the open."
"What if I ruin everything? I always do." Lightning was ashamed of how small her voice sounded. "What if she moves out? I almost ruined us Serah, and we're sisters. Fang doesn't have any reason to stay. If… if she moves out –"
"You're being stupid again. Of course she has a reason to stay – you're there. And you won't ruin everything. You might be blunt and silly and stubborn when it comes to things like this, but she's used to that – she's used to you." Serah chuckled. "I think it's a good sign. She's the only one who can put up with your grouchiness except me."
"I am not grouchy."
Serah raised her hand again.
"Maybe I am a little grouchy."
The hand became a fist.
"Fine, I'm a grouchy, neurotic soldier with a cleaning fixation."
Serah lowered her hand. "Yes, you are, but in case you haven't noticed, Fang doesn't mind. In fact, she thinks it's adorable. Why do you think she teases you so much? Honestly, it's like watching a pair of first graders. I'm just waiting for you to start pushing each other and pulling each other's hair."
Now that was something Lightning hadn't considered. She'd always assumed Fang was good at this sort of thing. But how many serious relationships had Fang been in since she and Vanille got back? None. Maybe Fang wasn't any better at this than her. Maybe they were both bumbling around with no idea of what to do. When she thought about it, Fang never teased the others the way she teased her. There was always amusement when she teased the others, but the jokes were always straightforward. With Lightning, there was always a hidden meaning to Fang's comments, a glint of something more in the other woman's eyes. Not to mention Fang had started to mention how much she liked women in uniform. Damn it, she really was stupid.
"And let's not forget that Fang doesn't mind it when you go off to kill things. Heck, she's usually there with you." Serah rolled her eyes and muttered something about idiots coming in matching pairs. "But that's beside the point. Ask yourself: when you're feeling sad, whom do you go to? When you're tired, who looks after you? And when you want to talk about something – anything – whom do you talk to?"
"Not anymore, you don't." Serah's smile was a tad watery. "You go to Fang, and that's okay because I want you to be happy."
For what felt like forever, Lightning stared down at the table. So many times, she'd come back from work to find Fang waiting with a kind word, a teasing comment and dinner on the table. Other times, she'd come home, disgusted with herself for not keeping some of the new recruits out of harm's way, and Fang had dragged her out of the house for some sparring to help her cool down. And then there were all the times she'd wandered through her house wondering what to do now that Serah had moved out, only to find Fang draped over the couch or digging through the fridge. The other woman belonged there with Lightning, looked perfect with one of Lightning's shirts on or one of her books opened on her lap.
"I bet Vanille told you about all of that, didn't she?" Lightning refused to believe her voice was trembling.
"She has a vested interest in this, just like I do. We've got a lot in common too, like sisters with rocks for brains." Serah patted Lightning's hand. "And believe it or not, she's practically adopted you into the family already. To quote: 'My sister deserves the best, even if the best happens to be an uptight, cranky soldier who never keeps enough candy in the house."
"Does everyone think I'm uptight and cranky?"
"You almost murdered her for leaving her clothes on the floor." Serah grinned. "But that's not the point. We all want what's best for you, and if you could maybe get around to sharing some of the money the tabloids would pay to cover your wedding then that would be thanks enough." She paused. "I'll take cash or credit, but Vanille wants cash."
"Serah!" Lightning laughed. "Don't even joke about that." She paused and took a sip of her coffee. It was cold but bracing, which was what she needed. "Thanks, I think. I guess… I needed to hear some of that." She'd come a long way if she could admit that.
The younger woman snagged another slice of cake. "Don't worry, you big sisters can't do everything. Little sisters have their place in the world too."
"Oh? I thought you were just here for me to spoil."
"That too." Serah's eyes softened. "It won't be easy, and you'll make mistakes, and sometimes you won't know what to do, but that true for everyone. Snow and I made our fair share of mistakes too. The thing is, it'll be worth it in the end. Just think: is there anyone else you can see next to you for the rest of your life? Is there anyone else you'd rather wake up to in the morning and come home to at night?"
This time, Lightning didn't hesitate. "No."
"Good. Now get cracking. I want some nieces to spoil."
Lightning gaped. "What?"
Serah clasped her hands together. "You heard me. They'd be so cute. They could have your hair and Fang's eyes or maybe the other way around, and when Snow and I have kids, they could all be friends, and we could live next door to each other and –"
Lightning was still trying to wrap her head around the idea of children. "They'll be monsters. Absolute monsters."
"Probably, and Fang will spoil them rotten."
It was hard not to smile at that. "I guess I'll have to be the tough one then." Lightning looked at her sister. "Are all of our talks going to be like this from now on?"
"I hope not." Serah leaned back in her chair and sighed. "Now that we've got all of that out of the way, we can spend the afternoon doing something fun."
Serah launched into a good-natured rant about some of the children she had to teach. They were lovable kids but with an eye for trouble. Lightning listened to it all with a faint smile on her lips. She felt… lighter now that she'd finally made up her mind. It was only later, after they'd gone shopping – Serah did most of the shopping while Lightning did most of the carrying – that she realised something. She'd never gotten a chance to taste the cake. Serah had eaten all of it while they were talking.
X X X
Fang tucked her phone back into her pocket. She'd asked – more like begged – Serah to put in a good word for her. She'd tried everything to get Lightning's attention short of declaring her undying love for the soldier on a giant billboard or ambushing her in bed. Both options had their upsides, but she hadn't wanted to scare the other woman off. When it came to love, Lightning could be as skittish as a newborn chocobo.
Instead of a proper message, Serah had sent back a single emoticon: a smiley face. Vanille had seen it and with wide eyes, the red head had ordered Fang to dress sexy, prepare a romantic, home cooked dinner complete with candles and music, and then dashed off to spend the night at Serah and Snow's house. How on earth could all of that come from one smiley face? Sometimes she wondered if maybe Serah and Vanille were related.
The front door opened then shut, and Fang heard Lightning's footsteps as she shrugged off her coat and wandered into the dining room. The pink haired woman looked deliciously rumpled, her uniform a tad untidy and her hair askew.
"What do you want for dinner, Fang…" Lightning trailed off as she finally noticed everything. A wave of satisfaction rippled through Fang as the other woman's eyes lingered on her before going to the table only to come back to her.
"What is all this?" Lightning asked.
Fang swallowed thickly. According to tradition, she should have dragged the dead carcass of the scariest monster she could find to Lightning's family to prove her worth. But that wouldn't work, not here. Not only would Serah not appreciate a dead monster on her lawn, Lightning would probably take one look at it, scoff, and then go off to try and kill a bigger one. This whole wine and dine thing was something new to Fang, and damn it, why was she just standing there and not saying anything?
"Uh… I thought we could have dinner."
"Oh." Lightning looked around. "Where's Vanille?"
"She has some stuff to do, so it's just us. I hope that's okay."
"It's fine." Lightning pulled out Fang's chair and waited for the other woman to sit before taking her place at the table. "This looks good. What is it?"
Fang grinned. "If you must know, it's…"
X X X
"You do realise, they're going to kill us once they find out," Snow said.
"I'm Lightning's little sister and Vanille is Fang's, so we're fine." Serah smiled at her boyfriend. "It's you and Hope who have to worry, although I notice you're both still watching anyway."
"It's interesting." Hope blushed. "I mean… yeah. Way better than normal television."
"Don't come crying to me then when soldier girl comes gunning for you." Sazh was the only one of the adults not watching the television. Instead, he and Dajh were locked in a game of checkers. To his dismay, the boy seemed to be winning.
"How are we seeing this?" Snow asked. The television had what looked to be a live feed from Lightning's dining room. Despite the danger, he couldn't look away. Fang and Lightning were too cute together
"I may have left a camera in the dining room." Vanille had a bowl of popcorn, which she passed to Hope then Serah. "I've been helping the Guardian Corps work on cameras they can wear on patrol. I left one of my prototypes in the dining room – it's the size of a button."
"I hope that's the only place you left one," Sazh muttered.
"Of course it is. I'm not a pervert." Vanille turned to Serah. "How did Lightning take the tabloid?"
"Like you'd expect." Serah giggled. "I'm glad I didn't show her the rest."
"You mean the story about you and I engaging in a twisted love affair behind Snow's back?" Vanille gave Serah a hug that bordered on lecherous as both Snow and Hope gaped. "Or do you mean the one where all of us got involved in a massive orgy at her house?"
Dajh looked up. "What's an orgy?"
"Nothing." Sazh scowled at Vanille. "Children are present, you know."
"Fine, fine." Vanille waved one hand at Sazh. "And let's not forget the one where Sazh and I are actually secretly married."
"Hey! I'll have you know I'm quite the eligible man."
"Never said you weren't, but I'm not interested in you that way." Vanille gave Dajh a cheeky grin. "Although I'd be happy to have Dajh around." She looked back at the television. "Now, back to –"
Serah reached for the remote and turned off the television. "I think we've seen enough. They'll be fine from here."
"But we still haven't gotten to the best part!" Vanille lobbed a piece of popcorn at the pink haired woman.
"The best part?"
"Well, yeah. As part of the Yun clan's customs, Fang needs to sing Lightning an epic ballad praising her beauty and suitability as a wife."
"You're lying." Serah scowled, but her hand inched back toward the remote.
"Can you risk missing it if I'm not?"
Serah turned the television back on.
X X X
As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.
So… this is supposed to be based on Fangrai Forever Prompt #58: The gossip columns have a ball with the growing relationship between world saviours Fang and Lightning. As you can see it kind of took on a life of it's own and spiraled out of control. Oh well.
When I first started thinking about this chapter, I was originally going to have Lightning meet Fang at the coffee shop, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought Serah would be a better choice. In many ways, Lightning has the emotional density of a block of diamond, so she might need a little push to get her going. Unfortunately, she doesn't take to advice very well, but Serah is one of the few people she will actually listen to. I also wanted to write something with a bit more Serah/Lightning in it (I mean Serah/Lightning in a sisterly way!). The relationship between the two of them is something I really like, and it's nice to write something after they've had the chance to rebuild their relationship.
Finally, in my profile you can find links to my blog and deviant art. I've recently put up a post talking about how I approach writing humour, and Redkid11 has made a wonderful comic covering Chapter 12 of Whispers of the Gods. It's called 'The Broken Sword' and I have a link to her deviant art in my profile as well. Check it out!
As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.